Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah likely didn’t learn his lesson from watching Kobe Bryant pay $100,000 in fines earlier this season.
After getting called for his second foul midway through the first quarter in last night’s loss to the Miami Heat, Noah turned and hurled a gay slur at a heckler.
“I apologize,” Noah said to reporters. “The fan said something to me that I thought was disrespectful, and I got caught up in the moment, and I said some things that I shouldn’t have said. I was frustrated and I don’t mean no disrespect to anybody. I just got caught up.”
Many have debated that Noah should not be fined as much as Bryant was since it was shouted at a fan and not a referee. I completely disagree. The NBA is a business because of the fanbase, and players are paid multi-million dollar contracts because there are butts in seats at arenas around the league.
At the same time, I’m not painting the heckler innocent either, but if I’m Tom Thibodeau, I would hope my players would have more to focus on than yelling at a heckler, especially in the Eastern Conference Finals.
I would expect Noah’s fine to be the same as Bryant’s. But it’ll take more than fines to clean the homophobic image the NBA is starting to get.